Soil nutritional status and biogeography influence rhizosphere microbial communities associated with the invasive tree Acacia dealbata
Le Roux, J.J.
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Invasiveness and the impacts of introduced plants are known to be mediated by plant-microbe interactions. Yet, the microbial communities associated with invasive plants are generally poorly understood. Here we report on the first comprehensive investigation of the bacterial and fungal communities inhabiting the rhizosphere and the surrounding bulk soil of a widespread invasive tree, Acacia dealbata. Amplicon sequencing data indicated that rhizospheric microbial communities differed significantly in structure and composition from those of the bulk soil. Two bacterial (Alphaproteobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria) and two fungal (Pezizomycetes and Agaricomycetes) classes were enriched in the rhizosphere compared with bulk soils. Changes in nutritional status, possibly induced by A. dealbata, primarily shaped rhizosphere soil communities. Despite a high degree of geographic variability in the diversity and composition of microbial communities, invasive A. dealbata populations shared a core of bacterial and fungal taxa, some of which are known to be involved in N and P cycling, while others are regarded as plant pathogens. Shotgun metagenomic analysis also showed that several functional genes related to plant growth promotion were overrepresented in the rhizospheres of A. dealbata. Overall, results suggest that rhizosphere microbes may contribute to the widespread success of this invader in novel environments.